Many people think of the Sept. 29 Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs as a great opportunity to sit outside and watch horses thunder across fields and jump over fences.
And they're right.
But the annual event, which benefits the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, is much more. It offers a tailgate competition with prizes, live music, wine tasting, food vendors and a display of antique cars from the Classic Car Club of America.
There is a stick pony race for children up to age 8. For an extra $10 per child, kids can enjoy a moon bounce, face painting, Hula Hoop contest, story time and a scavenger hunt.
An opening ceremony at noon features a parade of horse-drawn carriages around the steeplechase course. Opera singer Jarrod Lee will sing the national anthem.
"For 12 years, GBMC has been the beneficiary and this year, we've taken the lead role in sponsoring the event," said Jenny Coldiron, president of the GBMC Foundation. "You don't need to be an avid steeplechase fan to have fun. Pack a picnic basket and come enjoy a day in the country."
The horse races — five in all — start at 1 p.m. and award a total of $50,000 in purse money.
"It is exciting to see horse and rider jump," said Charlie Fenwick, one of the Legacy Chase event founders. "It takes a beautiful union of rider and horse to be successful at this athletic event. It's really an art form."
Fenwick said most riders and horses come from the mid-Atlantic region. He expects between eight and 12 horses to run in each race.
Gates open at 10 a.m. General parking and admission is $35 per car. Railside parking close to the race action is available for $350 per car. Watching the races from the finish line will cost $500 per car.
The railside and finish line cars are eligible to be included in the tailgate competition. This year, members of the Hunt Valley Rotary Club will visit each tailgate party and pick three winners.
"We're giving prizes for most elegant, most creative and most whimsical," said Nancy Young, who heads up the contest. Prizes include a wine basket from Fairgrounds Liquors and dinner for four at Carrabba's Italian Grill.
This is the Rotary club's first year to sponsor the tailgate competition, but its members have volunteered at the Legacy Chase for years. They have helped with parking, sold ads for program and sold programs at the event. This year, they'll be selling Legacy Chase bandannas.
For those who may not want to tailgate, a wine tasting, lunch and lecture runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are $125 or $250 and includes entrance fee. It features Jim Gabler, wine historian and author of five books, including "Passions: The Wines and Travels of Thomas Jefferson."
Entertainment from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. is provided by Baltimore-based band "GAZZE," a nine-member band that plays everything from today's hits and 1950s classics to country, big band and swing.
To order parking tickets or tickets for the special events, go to http://www.shawandowns.com. The 300-acre Shawan Downs is located at 1401 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley.